Customer Stories

Boosting Data Security at the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy

Industry:

Higher Education

Employees:

500

Use Case

FERPA Compliance

The Challenge

The University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy in St. Louis, with a storied history of over 158 years in education, faced a complex challenge in protecting sensitive student and staff data while needing to adhere to FERPA regulations. The university’s data, sprawled across vast expanses of Microsoft’s cloud services, presented a daunting task for classification and protection.  

 A mild cyber scare of 2023 served as a stark reminder of the vulnerabilities that could arise in managing a significant amount of sensitive student and faculty data, and underscored the urgent need for a robust data protection solution. 

 The university’s existing tools, Microsoft Purview, were becoming cumbersome and inadequate for identifying and classifying sensitive data. The process of data classification, a critical first step in securing sensitive information, was caught up in a dark cloud of inefficiency and complexity.  

 Purview’s utilization of trainable classifiers proved inaccurate and untrainable for student data. For example, it was impossible to train the model to look for letter grades such as “A” while differentiating the letter’s usage in properly formed sentences.  

 The university’s IT team needed a solution that could cut through the complexity, automate the classification process, and ensure that data was not only secure but also compliant with regulatory standards.

 The Solution

In response to these challenges, the University of Health Sciences and Pharmacy turned to Concentric AI after testing other solutions with limited success. Concentric AI’s solution stood out for its ability to seamlessly integrate with the university’s existing Microsoft ecosystem, and its streamlined approach to data classification without the need for additional infrastructure. UHSP was able to leverage its existing investments in Microsoft Purview, including Microsoft Information Protection (MIP) labeling taxonomy, while enhancing its capabilities with Concentric AI’s advanced classification and data protection functionality.  

 The solution’s deep learning technology offered a new level of insight into the university’s data, identifying sensitive information that had previously eluded detection.  

 Not long into the testing process, Concentric AI began to unearth insights into data sharing and security that they couldn’t see. The proof of value revealed some concerning vulnerabilities — such as sensitive data being shared with external email accounts — and autonomously remediated that risk. The partnership with Concentric AI has played a key role in the university’s security strategy and its commitment to privacy and security. 

"We needed to really dive in and find a product that could supplement Purview. Concentric AI was super competitive: one of the big things that you don't see with a lot of other competitors is Concentric AI put dedicated people to me…. We don't even need any additional hardware or servers having to be run. It's plug, play, and go, and I loved it. Our first scan took five minutes, and I said to myself ‘I've got it. This is easy as a piece of cake.’”

Zachary Lewis

AVP of Cybersecurity and CISO

What-We-Do

Results

Quick and effective deployment: Concentric AI was rapidly deployed across the university’s data repositories, including SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange.  

 Enhanced data security: Concentric AI identified and secured sensitive data shared outside the university, significantly boosting the security of student and employee information. 

 Accurate risk identification: Concentric AI quickly helped identify data at risk due to improper entitlements, classifications, and sharing permissions. Before Concentric AI, they had no visibility into which data was at risk.  

 Operational efficiency: The solution eliminated the need for manual document inspection, which was taking up considerable time and effort for the university’s security team. The IT team estimates that having Concentric AI’s team of experts is akin to a half FTE.  

 Compliance and Governance: The implementation of Concentric AI marked a significant step forward in the university’s data governance journey, giving them the confidence they needed to comply with data privacy regulations like FERPA. 

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